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Nothing makes a cuter Christmas picture than your dog posed in front of your beautifully decorated tree. But dogs and Christmas trees aren’t always a great mix. Decorated trees with their breakable ornaments and electric lights can be hazardous to dogs, and curious dogs can be a hazard to Christmas trees.
But don’t worry: you can still have a Christmas tree! You just need to take some precautions. Read on to learn how to keep your dog safe around the Christmas tree (and vice versa).
1. Go artificial
When Christmas trees fall over on TV it’s hilarious, but there’s nothing funny about it when one comes crashing down in your living room. Invest in a quality stand to secure the base of the tree. To prevent possible injury to curious pets, place the Christmas tree in a corner and securely anchor it to the ceiling or wall.
To anchor your tree, loop some fishing line around the trunk and tie it to an anchor, such as a molly bolt, in the wall behind it. You can also tie the line around the top of the tree and tie it to a screw in the ceiling. This will keep the tree from tipping over if a rambunctious dog gives it a bump.
You can also create an “alarm” to alert you if the tree is in danger: simply place aluminium foil or a can filled with beans on the tree’s bottom limbs. If your dog starts nosing around the tree, you’ll hear it in time to intervene.
2. Start with a bare tree
Before you decorate the tree, leave it up for a few days. This will help your dog get used to having a tree in the house, so they’ll be more likely to leave it alone once it’s covered in lights and baubles.
After a few days with a bare tree, chances are your dog will lose interest entirely!
3. Be wary of electrical cords
Bright, shiny lights are hard to resist, but they can be dangerous to your dog. Not only can your dog get tangled in the wires, but if she’s a chewer, there’s a risk of electrical shock. If you put lights on your Christmas tree, leave the bottom branches bare.
You should also secure cords leading to and from the tree. Hide cords with the tree skirt or decorative package, or use adhesive-backed cord clips to keep them off the floor and out of reach.
4. Put fragile ornaments on higher branches
Your big, happy dog with her big, wagging tail can be lethal to delicate Christmas decorations. Broken decorations may be a choking hazard, or cause paw or mouth injuries.
To keep your family heirlooms safe, and protect your dog from broken glass, put fragile ornaments towards the top of the tree, or switch to plastic. Depending on how rambunctious and curious your dog is, you may want to leave the bottom third of the tree bare.
5. No food on the tree
Popcorn garlands, chocolate ornaments, and candy canes, oh my! Festive treats make beautiful decorations, but they’re a no-no for dogs. And just a friendly reminder, chocolate’s among the most dangerous foods for dogs. During the holidays, it’s important to keep sweets completely out of reach of your dog—which may mean leaving it off the tree.
6. Keep toxic plants out of reach
Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias: these common houseplants are potentially toxic to dogs. If you decorate with any of them, keep them way out of reach of your pets. Better yet, look for pet-safe alternatives. Artificial versions can be just as lovely, and a lot safer for your dog.
While pine needles aren’t particularly toxic, they are small and sharp, and can cause injury in your dog’s mouth and intestines. If you have a natural Christmas tree, be sure to hoover up fallen needles every day.
7. Candles? Keep ’em up high and off the tree
Candlelight makes Christmastime cosy and bright, but open flames and dogs don’t mix (neither do open flames and Christmas trees). But flickering candlelight is hard to resist so if you’re decorating with candles, place them on secure shelves well out of reach of your dog. To get that flickering effect on the Christmas tree, try clip-on LED candles.
8. Save the presents for Christmas morning
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Sometimes it’s not a matter of dogs and Christmas trees, but dogs and what’s under the tree. To keep your Christmas gifts safe, and protect your dog from ingesting something she shouldn’t, don’t leave presents under the tree. Wait for Santa to come on Christmas Eve, and wake up to gifts that the dog hasn’t licked.
Christmastime is extra-special with a dog. By following our tips for Christmas tree safety, you can make sure the holiday season is happy and bright for you and your best friend!